A big thanks for Simon & Schuster for giving me the opportunity to read an advance copy of this book. This is my second book by Karin Tanabe; I read "The Gilded Years" in 2016 and I was looking forward to this new perspective on WW II.
Indeed this book did provide a multitude of information that I had never read about before regarding the Japanese and Germans interned together in Texas and then exchanged for citizens coming back to America from their respective countries. For concept and new perspective as well as the author's own connection to the war in Japan, I would give this book five stars.
The stories of these young people give us all a firsthand look at the hardships experienced by so many factions of society in so many countries during the war. Money was no guarantee of comfort and even though these three families lived in luxury before Hitler came into power -- their accumulated money, treasures an social status were nearly useless with the exception of having more resources to exit a country where death is certain and go to a location where they could at least eke out survival.
We are also reminded (as in "The Gilded Cage") of the walls and barriers faced by those who were the wrong color, wrong nationality or wrong religion. The perception of "wrong" being in the mind of those in Austria, America and Japan. It is hard to read about these situations and see the ingrained prejudices. What will our descendants see in our attitudes and actions when they read out stories?
As I read the book I did find that some of the story was slowed down to a crawl while other aspects were glossed over. Why did the Japanese hate the Chinese in Shanghai so much? Did Leo's family realized how badly Emi was treated by the Hitler Youth right outside their home? How did Christian find Emi after the war?